Thursday, 22 November 2012

Anyone up for a visit to the Dead Zoo??

By the time I was making these particular pieces I had looked at a broad range of insect photography through books and magazines. Some of my favourites have been “Collins Wild Guide- Insects of Britain and Europe” by Bob Gibbons, “Life in the Undergrowth” by David Attenborough and a beautiful book I got for a bargain at a book sale called “Eye to Eye” by Frans Lanting. I also looked at a huge amount of old “National Geographic” magazines.

It has also been a favourite day trip of mine for years to go the Natural History Museum or the Dead Zoo as they are calling it these days on Merrion Street in Dublin 2.

My parents took myself and my siblings there when we were children. I loved pulling back the heavy leathery covering that is over the glass cases containing their insect collection. I would look with wonder and fear at all the different tiny bodies pinned in rows. I was always one of those kids who worried about how the insects had ended up there. Had they been murdered callously for science or had they died by natural causes and their bodies had been gently collected in baskets by lurking entomologists? I always convinced myself it was the more unlikely natural cause’s option. I didn’t want to be racked with guilt as I wandered around the museum, haunted by the ghosts of murdered bumble bees.

I revisited the museum several times for research purposes in my college years. We would sit for hours drawing on hard floors and getting in the way of tourists. But they are always happy memories for me.

These bugs that I make are not supposed to be accurate representations of those insects I drew from books or from real life. They are generally a mash up of real shapes and silhouettes taken from my research mixed up with the happy wanderings of my imagination. They have feathers and Victorian bustles but they also have thoraces and antennae too.

Epoch John is one such bug who is a mixture of real insect bits and a concoction of what lives in the strange landscape of my mind. He has long spider’s legs and tiny short millipede ones too. He has a hard bumpy snails shell and a tall upright torso.

I never think he is particularly handsome but I do like how I constructed him. Sometimes I am able to quieten the critic in my head and I can just let myself go all out. When I can allow myself to play as an artist, I find I can come up with some interesting creations.

Here's some helpful links to things mentioned in today's post.

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